“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the percepts of men
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, suggested that one’s theology is influenced by four factors: faith, reason, Scripture, and tradition. He didn’t mean, however, that all sides are equally authoritative. He acknowledged that the Bible was foundational, but he also recognized that one’s individual faith, ability to reason, and religious tradition affect the way in which the Bible is interpreted. If Wesley were brought back to life today, he would be shocked to discover that many modern theologians in the Wesleyan tradition (and other traditions, as well) now value reason, tradition, or personal opinion over the clear teaching of Scripture.
This week’s lesson investigates the religious traditions upon which the scribes and Pharisees based many of their teachings. The rabbis who originally penned these traditions greatly respected the Scriptures and had no intention for these traditions to be elevated to the status of God’s Word. However, some of their zealous disciples confused the method with the message and in so doing shifted the focus from God’s written revelation to human tradition.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, April 19.